PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. – The timing might be a bit off for tourists hoping to waste away in Margaritaville. But that doesn’t bother Jimmy Buffett.
The singer – whose tunes are as much a part of life in this beach town as fried grouper sandwiches, Land Shark beer and the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels – is planning to open a 162-room Margaritaville Hotel in a week.
As tar balls came ashore Saturday from an oil plume shooting out of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, Buffett said he had no plans to delay the opening.
“This will pass,” he said as he walked along the city’s beachfront and fishing pier with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
Curious beachgoers mobbed the duo in a frenzy rarely seen on the normally laid-back beach, snapping cell phone pictures and laughing as Crist and Buffett spent about an hour doing interviews and talking.
Buffett told fans he often went to Pensacola Beach while growing up nearby in Alabama.
Buffett said the community will get through the crisis by pulling together. He wants people in the area to know that he’s there for them as the oil encroaches on their leisure and livelihoods.
Buffett’s $50 million hotel sits on the Gulf near the main section of Pensacola Beach.
The hotel sits on land where Hurricane Ivan destroyed a previous hotel in 2004.